“The Lost Autobiography of Samuel Steward” Recollections of An Extraordinary Twentieth Century Gay Life” edited by Jeremy Mulderig— What a Life!!!

Steward, Samuel. “The Lost Autobiography of Samuel Steward” Recollections of An Extraordinary Twentieth Century Gay Life”, edited by Jeremy Mulderig with a Foreword by Scott Herring, University of Chicago Press, 2018.

What A Life!!!

Amos Lassen

Samuel Steward was a man of several identities and each was exciting. Only his closest friends knew this about him. He was Samuel Steward, a popular university professor of English; he was Phil Sparrow, an accomplished tattoo artist; he was also Ward Stames, John McAndrews, and Donald Bishop, a prolific essayist in the first European gay magazines; and he was Phil Andros, the author of a series of popular pornographic gay novels during the 1960s and 1970s. Steward was a member of the circles of Gertrude Stein, Thornton Wilder, and Alfred Kinsey and friend of many other notable figures of the twentieth century. Steward was a compulsive record keeper who maintained a meticulous card-file index throughout his life that documented his 4,500 sexual encounters with men.

On August 21, 1978, a year before his seventieth birthday, Samuel Steward (1909–93) began his autobiography in Berkeley, California but it was never published. It is the story of many men but after writing 110,000 words in his first draft, he lost interest in it and instead subsequently published only a slim volume of selections from his manuscript.

With “The Lost Autobiography of Samuel Steward”, Jeremy Mulderig has integrated Steward’s truncated published text with the text of the original manuscript and has created the first extended version of Steward’s autobiography to appear in print and it is sensational, fascinating, and the enlightening story of his many lives in his own words. Mulderig’s thoroughly annotated text is more complete and coherent than either source alone and remains faithful to Steward’s style and voice with its self-deprecation and droll sense of humor. Now that we have it, it will, without doubt, be regarded as a landmark queer autobiography from the twentieth century.

Steward was an engaging prose stylist; and Mulderig is a meticulous and reliable editor who has written “judicious notes, glossing the various personae and cultural references with which some contemporary readers may need assistance.” The autobiography is readable like few others but then the man was one of a kind.

Because he was an English professor, Steward had a way with words and phrases. Then he led a fascinating life and just looking at the number of people that came into his life shows us the kind of man that he was.


Foreword by Scott Herring


Sources Cited by Short Title


1 Woodsfield, Ohio (1909–27)

2 University Years (1927–34)

3 Out of the Nursery, Into the Wide Wide (1934–36)

4 Chicago and Friends (1936–65)

5 The Magic Summer (1937)

6 Gertrude and Alice (1937–67)

7 The Allergy Years (1932–49)

8 Anomalies and Curiosities (1945–48)

9 The Worst of All Drugs (1920–47)

10 Whither Now Wilt Thou Fare? (1948–56)

11 Dr. Prometheus (1949–56)

12 I, Tattoodler (1954–65)

13 Farewell, My Lovelies (1948–65)

14 Calor di Forni (1965–70)

15 Becoming Phil Andros (1927–78)

16 Oktoberfest (1970–81)

17 A Bonsai Tree, a Dog or Two (1973–81)


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